Revelation 6:4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.
Three days from today, the world will begin a five year centennial commemoration of World War 1. Articles will be written in many newspapers and a plethora of historical documentaries will be broadcast on television channels. We will remind ourselves of the inhumane slaughter that took place, especially in and across the trenches of Europe and Turkey. Battles like the Somme, Ypres, and Gallipoli will once again become familiar and we will probably be horrified by the millions of lives that were wasted. It will not be a celebration or jingoistic fest. It will be a grave and somber commemoration of those dark days when humanity went insane for five terrible years.
Despite the awful carnage that took place, this ‘Great War,’ as it was once known, did not become the war to end all wars. Instead, after the war, the world became more divided, destructive, and decadent. Within a generation, this planet succumbed to satanic forces and another six year world war was fought all over the globe. Despite the outcome and the victory of the Allied Forces, we are still fighting localized wars which, I believe, stem from the brokenness of the First World War. Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are still areas of strife, violence, and war. Even Bosnia and Serbia, where the First World War began in Sarajevo, are still potentially hostile, unforgiving, and prone to the wickedness of ‘ethnic cleansing.’
It seems that peace on Earth will never be actually achieved until the Prince of Peace returns. As Christians, we can hope and pray, as well as strive for reconciliation and tolerance, as well as respect and peace, throughout the world, but we are not always going to achieve this. And even in the Church itself, the divisions that we have caused and the theological fights that we have fought, have weakened our witness and eviscerated our effectiveness. We are at war with ourselves, and so the message of Christ’s Peaceable Kingdom is being tarnished and largely ignored by our society.
Perhaps hostility and war are part of the depravity and wretchedness of humankind. Perhaps this is the actual price of our sinful ways and separation from God. Perhaps hell exists on earth just as much as it exists beyond death. If so, then we are urgently and wholly in need of a Savior to bring us salvation from belligerent selves, in order to restore us to the One, Triune, and Living God.
Questions for personal reflection
Where do I see hostility in my community, church, nation, and world? What should Christ’s Church be doing about this?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Prince of peace and the Savior of the world. We appeal to You for guidance and strength, peace and discernment in these troubled times. Open our hearts and minds to Your Spirit of true Peace and lead us in ways that will help heal this broken and embattled world. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or offer comments on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. John reads all of the emails.
Today’s image is one of John’s Remembrance drawings. It’s called ‘Tommy’s War,’ and it symbolizes the mud, blood, and tears of trench warfare. You can view a larger image at the following link: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2029/1977408030_ab40752c5f_b.jpg